Israel’s FM arrives in Kyiv in first visit to Ukraine since Russian invasion

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Foreign Minister Eli Cohen arrived in Kyiv on Thursday for the first visit to Ukraine by an Israeli minister since the Russian invasion nearly a year ago, his office said.

He was due to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

“I came to say: Israel stands by Ukraine and by the Ukrainian people in their difficult time,” Cohen wrote on Twitter.

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The foreign minister was due to fully reopen the Israeli embassy in the capital.

The diplomatic mission “will return to continuous activity, with the aim of strengthening relations between the countries,” Cohen said in a statement.

Shortly after arrival, the minister visited the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, the site of an alleged massacre of Ukrainian civilians.

“We cannot remain indifferent to these difficult images and to the stories of atrocities which I heard here. Israel condemns any intentional attack on innocent people,” he wrote on Twitter.

Cohen then paid his respects at Kyiv’s Babi Yar memorial to the almost 34,000 Jews massacred in 1941 while the city was under Nazi occupation.

Israel has adopted a cautious approach since Russian forces invaded Ukraine last February, seeking to maintain neutrality between the warring sides.

It has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine during the conflict but stopped short of delivering weapons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “certainly looking into” military aid for Ukraine, in a February interview with CNN.

The Kremlin has warned further supplies of weapons to Ukraine will lead to an escalation of the conflict.

The Russian military is active in Syria, where Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes since civil war broke out in 2011.

The strikes target Syrian troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israel has also emphasized its special ties with Moscow and more than a million Israeli citizens have origins in the former Soviet Union.

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